Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Spinning TOP and not putting God first

Written by: on February 13, 2024

I spent much longer reading Leadersmithing by Eve Poole than I had initially planned. Not that I was not intrigued by the book’s title, but that my time commitments were severely restricted due to travel, sermon preparation, leadership teaching sessions, and Conference attendance. However, once I began my elementary and inspectional reading, I had to spend longer due to the sheer volume of theory and practical insight into leadership the author was presenting. 


The foundational theory in part one, with the insightful tools associated with what leaders need to be able to do and how leaders really learn, was constructive, and in a world that is VUCA (p8), any summary breakdown is especially welcome. While the Merlin Factor (p9), learning through critical incidents (p10), Joining the dots (p21), and flexing style (p23) were especially illuminating, the most pertinent thoughts with part one involved the red queen effect (p15), motivating and influencing others (p21) and work-life balance (p31).


The Red Queen effect within Church leadership is a real issue. The Global Journal of Human Social Science suggests that the development of knowledge grows exponentially, stating that knowledge doubles every year and very soon predicts it will double every twelve hours (Pllana, 2019.) With such a rapid pace of change, the often attributed Mark Twain saying is true, ‘Tradition is not wearing your grandfather’s hat, it is buying a new one like he did” (no citation available). The church has to “keep running in order to stay stationary” (Poole, p16).

Motivating and influencing others was a definitive “aha moment” (Camacho) in leadership for me and correlates with 2 Timothy 2:2, which states, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others”. Indeed, you can only deliver through others (Poole, p21)

The Work-Life Balance (p 31) is undoubtedly one of the most significant challenges for a leader. The higher the corporate ladder you climb, the more that needs to be done without the joy of the journeyman ideal of “something terribly clean about just doing a day’s work and getting paid for it without the complexities of vocation, meaning making and purpose” (p 65). In correlation with motivating and influencing others, you can only do more by delivering through others. Many years ago, I asked my father, who was a pastor, to help me understand priorities in the Kingdom of God. I had heard preachers say that God is first, family is second, and ministry is third. My Dad suggested that this response was too narrow and that while God is number one in our lives, we cannot neglect our families and ministries. He suggested a more profound approach to the work-life balance for a pastor. He told me to think about a spinning top on a table. While stationary, the three distinct colours of blue, green and yellow are visible, but once the top spins, all colours blend. My Dad suggested that priorities in work and life are similar. When you are in motion, you cannot pray so much that you neglect your family or do the work of the ministry so much that you neglect time with the Lord in prayer. He suggested that while in heart and worship, God is always first, in the practical aspects of life, seasons/ times are essential. Sometimes, you need to stop praying and spend time with your family. At others, stop playing golf and get into the prayer closet. This has had a profound effect on my life and ministry. 


In the past 28 years of full-time Christian ministry, I have learnt that Eve Poole is one hundred per cent correct in learning through critical incidents (p 14). As a church, we once encountered a PhD graduate who offered, at a significant cost, to teach the church’s senior leadership how to lead more effectively. While being appreciative of the PhD student’s work, his educational life, or more precisely his academic life, had taken him from kindergarten to his doctoral thesis, with no breaks for actual leadership for himself. He knew the leadership theory and excelled in his academic understanding but had no hands-on experience learning through critical incidents. While potentially helpful as a coach in leadership theory, we rejected his offer of help at the time because we needed both the expertise of leadership theory and leadership critical incidents.  


In part two, Poole offers invaluable insights and practical guidance for aspiring and seasoned leaders, equipping them with the tools and mindset needed to thrive in today’s complex and ever-changing world. The simple but not overly simplistic profundity of Figure 1 (p X), culminating with the deck of cards metaphor (p 74), is a helpful, go to resources when facing leadership issues associated with sharpness in leadership, physical impact, practical tools and putting others at ease in leadership (see table 2, p 75). Leadersmithing is two books in one. The theory of leadership is part one, and the further reference section is part two. Part two’s critics may cite its reliance on theoretical concepts without sufficient real-world application. It may not provide enough practical examples or case studies to help readers effectively understand how to implement these ideas in their leadership roles. The exercises provided, however, offer enough space for further thought for the discerning reader to create an applicable connection to real-time applications in all walks of life. 

Leadersmithing is going to be a definite – go-back to book for me.



Camacho, Tom. Mining for Gold: Developing Kingdom Leaders through Coaching. London: IVP, 2019.

Poole, Eve. 2017. Leadersmithing: Revealing the Trade Secrets of Leadership. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Pllana, Duli. 2019. “Expanding Entire Volume of Knowledge Influences on Incrementing

Individual Knowledge.” Global Journal of Human-Social Science: H Interdisciplinary 19, no. 8, Version 1.0. Accessed 07/02/2024. Publisher: Global Journals. URL: https://globaljournals.org/GJHSS_Volume19/5-Expanding-Entire-Volume-of-Knowledge.pdf.

The New International Version Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

About the Author


Glyn Barrett

I am the founding, Lead Pastor of !Audacious Church in Manchester, England. I was born in Manchester, but moved to Australia at the age of two. My wife and I were married in Australia and began married and ministry life in England 28 years ago. After serving as youth pastors for 12 years, we moved to Manchester to pioneer !Audacious Church. As a church we now have 7 locations. 3 in Manchester, Chester, Cardiff (Wales), Sheffield, and Geneva (Switzerland). In 2019 I became the National Leader of Assemblies of God in Great Britain. We have over 600 churches in our movement and have planted 50 new churches since May 2022 with a goal of planting 400 new churches between May 2022 and May 2028. I am the European Lead for MM33, which is the church planting ministry for Assemblies of God Global and also chair Empowered21 Western Europe. I'm happily married to Sophia, with two children, one dog and two motorbikes. I love Golf, coffee and spending time with friends. Looking forward to meeting you all, and creating new friendships.

12 responses to “The Spinning TOP and not putting God first”

  1. mm Ryan Thorson says:

    Great work and summary Glyn and I agree with you on the book’s value!

    Have you thought about using some of these exercises with the teams that you lead? How would you implement them?

    • mm Glyn Barrett says:

      Hey Ryan! I really like the exercises. They offer a plethora of opportunities for brainstorming, workshopping, innovative thinking, and coaching leaders. What’s particularly beneficial is the ability to tailor exercises to individual or team needs, like improving communication, problem-solving, or conflict resolution. The brilliance of the exercises in part two is that the moderator doesn’t have to be present throughout the entire session for them to be effective. As someone who juggles multiple tasks, this feature is truly ingenious!

  2. Jeff Styer says:

    I love your spinning top analogy. I know pastors who say they are putting God first but in all reality they are putting their sermon prep and other pastoral duties first and neglecting everyone else including their own devotional/worship time. Is your church’s leadership supportive of your maintaining a healthy work-life balance? Do they give you the time off needed to ensure that you are staying healthy?

  3. mm Glyn Barrett says:

    Hi Jeff. I have only been in two churches since graduating from Bible Seminary 28 years ago. I served for 12 years as a youth pastor in one church and now 16 years in the current church as founding and senior pastor. Both churches have been outstanding regarding time off. We observe a Sabbath day every Monday (there are a few exceptions to this). We have 4 weeks of holiday (vacation for all my American cousins) annually. We had our first Sabbatical (long service leave) in 2022, with three months vacationing in Europe. Rest has always been part of the leadership journey for us, and we are very grateful.

  4. Debbie Owen says:

    Glyn, which aspects of the work-life balance – or spinning top – do you find most challenging, and which are the easiest? (I’ll cheerfully accept any advice you care to share!)

    • mm Glyn Barrett says:

      Hi Debbie. Hmmm, great questions. I live in compartments in my time and head, so once something is in the diary, it happens. Therein lies the greatest challenge, ensuring that everything I want and need to do in balancing the work-life scenario is in the diary. Due to the busyness of life, I am lazy in planning for my day off. That is to say, it ALWAYS HAPPENS, but it is rarely well planned for my wife and I. As a result, we have learnt to become spontaneous on our sabbath day. Spontaneous, may also be code for, “Oooops, we forgot to plan something again” and so we just make it up on the spot. After 28 years of marriage, we have become super relaxed in not making plans for our day off and so have learnt to lean into the relaxed nature of those days. On the rare occasion that we have planned something in advance, it’s even more special. We have learnt to work and play hard. We always take vacations and whenever we travel, which is usually ten days a month, we carve out times to see new countries and cultures together.

  5. Graham English says:

    HI Glyn, thanks for sharing great wisdom from your dad. I am imagining that in some way you received some “templating” growing up with a pastor for a dad.
    I had a mentoring relationship with an older pastor who pastored in a much larger church at the time. He took me and others under his wing. I observed his prayer life and asked him to mentor me in prayer. He drove almost an hour monthly (he wanted to come my way) to my town to meet with me, learn about prayer together, and most importantly pray. I am forever grateful for his investment in my life. He did this for a year.
    How do you suppose we could cast a vision for those more seasoned leaders to take younger leaders under their wings. Any wisdom on how we could leverage their wisdom and experience?

    • mm Glyn Barrett says:

      Hi Graham
      Around four years ago within our movement, we recognised a significant amount of retired ministers possessing invaluable experience, time, and practical wisdom. Simultaneously, we observed the need for support among younger ministers. We initiated a group called “The Expendables” (think of the movie).

      Upon approaching retired ministers about their willingness to provide mentorship and support to their younger counterparts, their response was resoundingly affirmative. These “expendables” enthusiastically commit their time to supporting churches and nurturing younger ministers. Their dedication is both honoured and cherished by us, as they offer unparalleled support.

      Essentially, they extend a hand to younger ministers, asking, “How can we assist you?” Each support package is tailored to the needs of the respective church, resulting in a mutually beneficial arrangement. It’s a brilliant initiative benefiting all involved.

  6. mm Kari says:

    Hi Glyn,

    I, too, appreciated the spinning top analogy. Personally, I’ve always questions the hierarchical model: God first, family second, ministry third. I rarely saw this modeled in a way that I felt was God honoring and Biblically sound.

    In your own life, what “applicable connection to real-time applications” do you want to practice or apply from the book?

  7. mm Glyn Barrett says:

    The versatility of Poole’s deck of cards is ingenious. You ask for specifics, but can I answer in a more general way? I think that the deck of cards and resulting application to real-time scenarios can work as follows:
    Imagine drawing your team together for a creative, brainstorming exercise. Draw a random card from a deck of cards and apply the exercise listed in the book associated with the selected card. With each card representing a different aspect or perspective on a given challenge or opportunity, the ability to stimulate diverse thinking and generate fresh ideas by encouraging participants to consider unconventional angles and viewpoints is amazing.

  8. Chad Warren says:

    You mentioned the time commitments of the week were restrictive for your engagement with the reading.
    I can appreciate and relate to that feeling. This helps me appreciate your comments about work-life balance as a key challenge for leaders. The analogy of the spinning top is very helpful. I’m curious how the theory or practice components Poole introduces resonate, if at all, with your NPO?

  9. mm Glyn Barrett says:

    Hi Chad, the theory of leadership found in the book is a brilliant addition to some of the foundational thinking that will come into play in my NPO. There are certain quotes that resonate in the context of the NPO as food for thought.
    Regarding current practice, I love what Poole talks about on page 44 when she discusses the idea of retention. Specifically, she says, “If you notice your mind wandering, tempt it back with novelty” (p.45). I sit in so many church and conference sermons every week that I find that my mind can easily wander. The way I stop this is by taking notes in every service making use of diagrams and colour in my notes. In essence, I am using novelty to keep me focused on the message that’s being preached.

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